What is a CAM or Conditional Access Module

By | June 23, 2011

A conditional access module (CAM) is an electronic device, usually incorporating a slot for a smart card, which equips an Integrated Digital Television or set-top box with the appropriate hardware facility to view conditional access content that has been encrypted using a conditional access system. They are normally used with direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) services, although digital terrestrial pay TV suppliers also use CAMs. PC TV Card form factor is used as the Common Interface form of Conditional Access Modules for DVB broadcasts.

The primary purpose of the Cam is to derive control words, which are short-term decryption keys for video. The effectiveness of a CAM depends on the tamper resistance of the hardware; if the hardware is broken, the functionality of the CAM can be emulated, enabling the content to be decrypted by non-subscribers. CAMs are normally removable so that they can be replaced after the hardware security is breached. Replacement of the CAMs in a system is called a card swap-out.

The standard format for a conditional access module is a PC TV card which takes a smart card to authenticate, although CAMs with the ‘smart card’ burnt into memory can be found. In addition, CAM emulators exist for many systems, either providing an interface to allow the use of more than one type of card, or a card not designed for that receiver.

Some encryption system for which CAMs are available are Logiways, Nagravision, Viaccess, Mediaguard, Irdeto, KeyFly, Verimatrix, Cryptoworks, Mascom, Safeview, Diablo CAM and Conax. NDS VideoGuard encryption, the preferred choice of Sky Digital TV card can only be externally emulated by a brand cam. Such as conax CAM module, Some digital boxes & TVs have a socket where you can plug in a CAM if you want to watch channels whose transmissions are encrypted. Most of CAMs are compatible with MPEG2 & MPEG4 Receivers.

What’s the difference between Common CAM and Professional CAM

There are two kind of conditional access modules available in the market: Common CAM module & Professional CAM module. The common module is often one channel while professional module can have multi-channels, like two channels, four channels, eight channels, etc. Most of the individual users would choose common CAM module when want to watch encrypted transmissions. Professional CAM module is intended for professional use. Most are applied in DVB test or industries.

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